6 Common Air Conditioner Smells Decoded and How to Fix Them

April 21, 2021

When your air conditioner is spotless and running properly, you shouldn’t be smelling anything weird. Unusual air conditioner noises and weird smells are a hint that something is up. If your air conditioner is past its prime or you haven’t had service completed recently, they can be an obvious sign you need professional air conditioning repair in Anaheim.

Here are six of the most common air conditioner smells and how you can resolve them.

1. Central Air Conditioner Smells Like Chemicals

If your air conditioner smells bad when turned on, especially a chemical odor, isn’t a great sign. You may also notice your:

  • Air conditioner smells like paint thinner
  • Home air conditioner smells sweet

These sweet, chemical smells are often a clue that your air conditioner is suffering from a refrigerant leak. Your system relies on this gas to transfer heat through copper coils, which can crack over time.

4 Signs You Are Dealing with a Refrigerant Leak

Besides the weird smell, here are four other signs that you have a refrigerant leak.

  1. Bubbling or hissing sounds when your air conditioner runs.
  2. Ice on refrigerant lines or the evaporator coil.
  3. Trouble keeping your house cool or reaching your desired temperature.
  4. High utility costs.

How You Can Repair It

A refrigerant leak calls for skilled assistance from a heating and cooling company like Eco Fresh HVAC Inc.. Your cooling pro will locate and mend the leak before recharging your system with refrigerant.

Fixing a refrigerant leak often costs between $225 and $1,600, per nationwide averages compiled by HomeAdvisor. Your total cost will depend on the location and severity of the leak, as well as how long it takes to solve.

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2010, it’s likely it runs on R-22 or Freon refrigerant. This refrigerant is no longer being made because of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. As a result, repairs can be very expensive so it may be wisest to schedule air conditioning installation in this instance.

2. Air Conditioner Smells Like Gas

If your air conditioner smells like rotten eggs, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. But there’s a good likelihood you have a natural gas leak in your home. Natural gas has a sulfur-like additive to warn you when there’s a leak, as the gas can be fatal in big amounts.

How You Can Repair It

If you notice a sulfur or rotten egg odor, we suggest:

  • Shutting off your gas supply.
  • Opening windows.
  • Going outside as soon as possible.
  • Contacting your gas company without delay.

3. Air Conditioner Smells Musty

Individuals who call us about this situation usually share their air conditioner smells like feet, dirty socks or a locker room when it’s on. Also referred to as dirty sock syndrome, this smell is often linked to a dirty evaporator coil that has mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Moisture can also make your home air conditioner smell bad. Dirty sock syndrome is most common in areas where you turn on heating at night and during the morning before transitioning to cooling later in the day.

How to Fix It

The best method for preventing dirty sock syndrome is to regularly replace your air filter and schedule regular air conditioning maintenance with Eco Fresh HVAC Inc.. We’ll keep the evaporator coil clean and the drainage system unblocked, since stagnant water can also produce nasty odors.

4. Air Conditioner Smells Like Vinegar

If you are living with air conditioner mildew smell or a pungent, vinegar-like odor, it might be caused by several issues, like:

  • A clogged filter
  • Extra condensation
  • Clogged condensate pan or drain line
  • Moldy air conditioner or ductwork

How to Resolve It

Examine your filter first. If you haven’t put in a new one within the last three months and can’t see light through it, we recommend replacing it. If that doesn’t fix the smell, call Eco Fresh HVAC Inc. at 714-855-1717.

5. Air Conditioner Smells Like Burning Plastic

If you’re experiencing an air conditioner burning smell or that your air conditioner smells like fish, there could be several things wrong. These involve:

  • Broken capacitator that’s overheating the motor.
  • Motor that should have lubrication.
  • Broken fan belt.
  • Electrical malfunctions.

Electrical issues should be examined quickly to prevent a fire. If you smell burning plastic when your air conditioner is operating, turn it off and call us at 714-855-1717 immediately.

6. Air Conditioner Smells Like Cat Pee

A strong ammonia odor means there may be mold flourishing within your air conditioner or ductwork. The smell isn’t the mold itself, but the mycotoxins that mold produces.

How to Repair It

Mycotoxins are hazardous to your wellness. That’s why we recommend having a professional like Eco Fresh HVAC Inc. examine your air conditioner and ductwork and clean it when needed.

Our Pros Can Get Rid of Weird Air Conditioner Smells Quickly

You deserve to be cozy in your house and shouldn’t have an air conditioner that smells bad. When you are looking for relief from your noxious air conditioner, contact us at 714-855-1717. We’ll determine the issue quickly and fix it at a fair price.